Co-driver: Miikka Anttila
We were able to test the car about 70 kilometres before the rally and it was much better than in Mexico. The first stage was driven on tarmac at a stadium on Thursday evening. Maybe I had too much tension in my body because I drove off the track immediately in the first corner and the motor died but I was lucky because the car was not damaged. It was really embarrassing to drive off in front of thousands of spectators.
On Friday morning all of that was forgotten and we started in a good mood. On stage one the car felt good and my driving went well, but unfortunately there were some problems in the screen on the dashboard and I couldn’t see what gear I was driving on. I drove too fast to a tight uphill corner having a wrong gear on and the car died again. It took me about 30 seconds to get the car moving because I couldn’t see which gear I had and the launch control was locked on, too. Otherwise Friday was good, almost perfect, because I was able to drive the third fastest stage time three times and now my position in the overall was sixth.
On Saturday morning it started to rain right after we had made our tire choice and we had to leave for the stages with uncut tires. So the slippery conditions surprised us right away on the first stage of the morning four kilometres after the start. There was so much mud on the road that the braking went too long and I drove straight onto a field, but luckily I was able to get back to the road. In the afternoon the conditions got drier and again I made wrong tire choice. Now I took too soft tires and didn’t get good stage times but I was able to keep my sixth position though. On Sunday my aim was to drive steadily to the finish because the fifth place was too far away. The driving went better than on Saturday and all the other stages except the Super special stage in front of the spectators went well. On the Super special I stopped the car again in the first corner and lost 15 valuable seconds. I finished the rally sixth and got three world championship points, but unfortunately in the re-check of the cars they found out that all the –06 model Fords had too thin rear side classes and we all got time penalty of five minutes which made us drop in the positions. Finally we were number eight but got one world championship point though.
Car: Ford Focus WRC -06
Service Team: Stobart